The Lake Cowichan Community Garden, an initiative started by Councillor Bob Day, is an idea that has picked up a lot of steam. The garden is slated for part of the old BMX park that lies behind the baseball diamond, in what looks like an abandoned field.
“The hope is that one day this whole area will be a comprehensive site with a full size soccer pitch, the current baseball diamond and possibly a second, as well as the community garden and more,” said Councillor Bob Day. “But the garden is a good start.”
Day describes himself as “somewhat of an environmentalist,” and working at the grocery store has really given him insight into how out of touch our generation has become with food.
“We didn’t always get this variety of food. When I was a kid, I didn’t know what a mango was,” said Day. He points out that even a few years ago, you could only get California strawberries seven months of the year. Now you can get them almost year-round. The availability is due to most of the food being shipped in from other locations such as California, Mexico and more.
Day hopes that the community garden initiative will help people connect more with food and the reality of homegrown fruits and vegetables. And his idea has gained a lot of interest.
Island Health has jumped on board, donating a lump sum to the community garden project.
“They are realizing they need to keep people out of the hospitals,” said Day. To that end, they have deemed gardening a health initiative worthy of their donation.
Cowichan Green Community (CGC) is also on board; they are an organization whose mandate is environmental sustainability in the Cowichan Region through local food production in both urban and rural sites. The CGC will be building the actual gardens, and Cowichan Lake Recreation will organize programming via the Playbook, offering classes such as ‘how to build a raised bed garden’ and more.
Day hopes the community garden will offer a variety of new activities that families can do together.
“Right now we have the baseball diamond that gets used about three months a year. Other than that, there’s not much going on in this spot.”
But hopefully that will change as the gardens come together.
Right now the idea is at the community consultation stage, which means the committees are raising awareness about the project and gathering community support for it.
Down the road, the committee in charge of the garden initiative will be looking for donations of used building materials and people willing to volunteer their time to build the gardens, making this a community initiative from the start.
Day sees this community garden as the first step in a family and community process to get back in touch with our environment.
“I’ve been reading a lot about the food forest initiatives, too,” said Day. But that scale of community garden is a ways away. For now, Day and others involved will focus on this simple yet sustainable initiative to help improve quality of life in Lake Cowichan.